Jallianwala Bagh saw a great revamp done by the Government of India. The citizens of India are outraged over the revamp of the memorial park that was the scene of one of the bloodiest massacres in British history.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the renovated Jallianwala Bagh complex in the northern city of Amritsar on Saturday. Since then people both on ground and on social media platforms are expressing their opinion on the matter, most of them being outraged.
A brief history :
The Jallianwala Bagh memorial holds strong emotions of the citizens as the massacre took lives of many innocents. The massacre took place on 13 April 1919. A large but peaceful crowd gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar,Punjab. In response to the public gathering, the British Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer surrounded the Bagh with his soldiers. The park could only be exited from one side as the other three sides were enclosed buildings. The exit being blocked, he ordered the troops to open fire at the crowd. The troops kept firing until the ammunations was exhausted. Estimates of those killed vary between 391 and1000+ people and over 1200 people were injured of whom 192 were seriously injured.
The government has now given the site a facelift – museum galleries have been opened and a daily sound and light show has been started to display the events of 13 April, 1919. The walls of a narrow lane – through which British soldiers led by Brigadier General RH Dyer entered the park – have been embellished with murals and sculptures, to commemorate those who died on that fateful day. And the Martyrs’ Well – in which many people are believed to have jumped to escape the bullets – has been covered with a transparent barrier.
Mr. Modi said the renovated Jallianwala Bagh “will remind the new generation about the history of this holy place and will inspire to learn a lot about its past”.
But critics called the move insensitive, and accused the government of trying to erase and distort the country’s history.
Historian Kim Wagner called it a “part of the general Disneyfication of the old city of Amritsar”, adding that the revamping of the site “means that the last traces of the event have effectively been erased”.
Chaman Lal, a historian and professor at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the project had tried to “mystify and glamourise history. People visiting Jallianwala Bagh should go with a sense of pain and anguish,” he said. “They have now tried to make it a space for enjoying, with a beautiful garden. It was not a beautiful garden.”
Eminent historian S Irfan Habib called the project a “corporatisation of monuments,” that has been done “at the cost of history, cost of heritage”. “It is absolutely gaudy…Why should there be murals on the wall?” he said.
Political opponents also criticised Mr Modi’s government for the decision.
Main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi led the charge, saying his Congress party was against “this indecent cruelty”.
“Such an insult to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh can only be done by those who do not know the meaning of martyrdom,” Mr Gandhi tweeted. “I am the son of a martyr – I will not tolerate the insult of martyrs at any cost.”
Shwait Malik, an Indian MP belonging to the ruling BJP and a member of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust, defended the renovation.
“These sculptures in the lane will make visitors conscious of those who walked in on that day… Earlier, people walked this narrow lane without knowing its history, now they will walk with history,” he said.
People even compared the situation with the International way of preserving historical monuments and how it could have been dealt with in a better way.
(image credits: Wikimedia Commons)